"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, August 30, 2013

House Work, Part One


turning leaves,

and fireweed fluff. 

They are all indicators that autumn is pushing summer out of town.  It's been a wonderful summer with lots of sunny days and temperatures above normal for this part of Alaska.  When the thermometer reaches 92 in the shade, it's a good day to stay inside.

But, there was work to be done, especially on the outside of my house.   That's why this blog was updated infrequently.

Here's a photo of the back side of my home before the work started.

My job last summer was to sand all the log siding and refinish it.   With this:

I sanded that back wall to the bottom of the loft windows.   Then, I had a brilliant idea.

Cedar shakes!   Yes, no need to sand higher than those windows.   No need to balance on an extension ladder to reach 22 feet off the deck.   No need to get more sawdust in my eyes, ears, and nose.

First off, I talked Dave into doing the lion's share of the first project.

I prepped the material.

Here a shake,

there a shake,

everywhere shakes,  shakes.

Enter Dave. 

First, he stapled backing to the gable end.

Then he began adding the pre-finished cedar shakes.

And voila!

See the difference?   The house is more in proportion, and I didn't have to grind the old finish off while 22 feet up a ladder.



I'm not finished with house work yet.   And that 22 foot sanding job on an extension ladder comes back into play. 

(to be continued)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All the advice Obama never asked for, all in one spot.

President Obama had yet another meeting today with all his advisors, hoping to come to a decision on what to do or not do regarding the situation in Syria.

I say he should ask the medical community for suggestions.   Here are my prognostications of what their responses would be.

Feel free to add your own prognostications in the comments section.

Surgeons will recommend an invasive strike.

Proctologists will recommend kicking the crap out of the Assad regime.

Psychiatrists will recommend shock and awe (electric shock treatments).

Dentists will recommend extracting all US personnel from the region.

Physical therapists will recommend a series of escalating military exercises designed to cause increasing pain.

Chiropractors will recommend manipulation, i.e., blockades, sanctions, etc.

Opthamologists will recommend a “wait and see” attitude.

General practitioners will recommend a total examination of the situation, with multiple tests.

Audiologists will recommend blasting heavy metal music 24/7 from aircraft, while dropping ear plugs to civilians.

Geneticists will recommend complete DNA testing, specifically to determine if Syrians carry a warfare gene.

Homeopathic practitioners will recommend all Syrians drink rosemary tea and just chill out.

(NOTE:   Sometimes black humor is the best way to cope with a horrid situation, especially when there is nothing I can do about it.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

I'm sitting here giggling about how clever and propitious the title of this post is.  Propitious.   Good word, that propitious.  Means a good omen, opportune, auspicious.

I can't take all the credit for the title, though, because it was all but handed to me on a paper plate while I was eating a hot dog and wishing.....   Ah, no.   You're not getting the punch line this early.  Keep reading.

As a matter of fact, the whole top of the day was propitious, now that I consider what happened.  It all started around 11:30 this morning when I was standing on my front deck talking with a couple friends.   We had plans for the next couple hours and it was time to go, so when the Moose Pass Volunteer fire truck and the EMS rescue truck went wailing by, we wondered if our plans were going to be cancelled.

See, we were going to the dedication of the new fire hall in Moose Pass.   It's new to the fire company, but it's an old building.   Used to be the highway maintenance building until the State Dept. of Transportation decided to center this area's maintenance section in Cooper Landing which has a newer, nicer DOT building.   After many years, much money, and lots and lots of work, the MPVFD and EMS folks were ready to show off their new digs.

The photo on the left is how the old DOT shop looked.   On the right is the shop in its new incarnation as the Moose Pass fire hall.

That was supposed to start at noon today, but then came that call out that sent a firetruck and rescue truck screaming up the highway past my house.   We wondered if anyone would be home if we still went to the party.   We went anyway, and lo and behold, the sun pierced through the heavy gray clouds that have been with us for a couple days (and expected to remain a while).   There's that "propitious" again.

Not to worry.

The responders were back AND in uniform, for gosh sakes.  Uniforms!

Assistant Chief Jake.  Hmmm.  You know what they say about a man in uniform...  Boy, is he going to be embarrassed. 

I wandered around, chatting with friends, checking out the new fire hall, which is "really much nicer than beer"* the old hall, which consisted of a couple cramped bays in the back of the community hall.   Now the Moose Pass Sportsmans Club has room to expand (maybe the library will get the old firehall bays).

While I was wandering, the Alaska Railroad coal train passed by on the far side of the lake.

About that MP Sportsmans Club:   In most communities it would be called the Moose Pass Community Club, but this is Alaska, and "we don't care how they do it Outside" (which was a very popular bumper sticker during and after pipeline construction days.).  It's been the Sportsmans Club since before I moved here in 1977.  It's actually recognized as a quasi governing body, something to handle town business when the real governing bodies have something to talk to us about and vice versa.

Eventually the festivities began.  The guest speaker was a no-show, and I have no idea who that no-show was, but Fire Chief Brian did an admirable job of thanking all those who had helped pull this new fire hall together, even complimenting the town on its annual Christmas party where all the kids in town (and some that didn't live here) got a present directly from Santa, and a few other events the club hosts.

What a fleet of fire trucks!

Then they cut the ribbon.

Are those Fiskars scissors?

No wimpy pair of scissors to cut this ribbon.   Nope.   They cut it with the "Jaws of Life"  which is like a giant pneumatic can opener used to free people trapped in wrecked cars.


Once that was over, we headed for the barbeque table.

Out the back door, hot dogs and hamburgers were cooking over a charcoal fire and smoke was billowing up from the BBQ.

Now, the prevailing winds in this town usually would have sent the smoke away from the building.   Not on this propitious day, though.

See all the BBQ smoke going out the front of the building?

Nope.   Today the smoke wafted in the back door,  drifted past the tables for diners, and continued out the front garage door.   And what do you supposed happened???

What else?  The smoke alarms went off, of course.

And there it was,  like mustard on the hot dog I was eating and wishing someone would turn off the screeching alarms: The title for this post.   What else could I have called it?

It was also a propitious reminder (No, wait, maybe this was a serendipitous reminder) for all of us to make sure our smoke detectors were in working order.   Serendipitous, you see, is something good that happens accidentally, mostly when you're least expecting it.

I didn't stick around for the cake.  I had chores to do at home and those chores required borrowed scaffolding that the owner would need soon.

My housework.  Yes, that is an eight foot stepladder on top of the scaffolding.  I'm sanding the old finish off the logs.

I wish I'd stayed for the cake.

Before I close this post with all its propitiousness and serendipitousness, here are a couple photos of the old fire truck, a 1942 Ford.  Plans are to restore it and put it on display.

Looking a little sad there, lady.

Okay, here's a nicer photo...

*  If you're of a certain age, you'll most likely remember these lyrics from the Limeliters in the early Sixties:

Have some Madeira, my dear, 
It's really much nicer than beer.

Friday, August 16, 2013

To Whom It May Concern

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear (ah-ah-ah, not telling)
Happy birthday to you!

Oh, what the hell.  As Marilyn Monroe said:   Ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision?   Here's a whole bouquet for your 100th birthday.

Love always, 

The King Lives....or does he?

Wow.  Was it really 36 years ago that Elvis died?

I swear it seems like just last week that I saw him at WalMart.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tour Guide, Part Three

About 15 years ago, we invited three granddaughters in Arizona to come to Alaska for two weeks.  “Not a good idea,” said the mother of one.  “Two are okay.   Not three at the same time.”  First mistake.

Rather than take her advice (how could we choose one to stay behind?), all three arrived with stories about being reprimanded by the airline crew for ringing the call button too often.  I should have realized right then I’d made my second mistake.   The summer before we had four grandsons visit and all went reasonably well.

Third mistake:  letting the three girls, who were about 14 and 15, stay by themselves in a different building on our property, with no adult referee supervision.  

Fourth mistake:  planning a full day of activities in Seward that I thought would interest the girls.   When that day arrived, I almost had to drag the girls from their beds because the three had been up all night with two picking on the third, who had deep scratches on her arms to prove it.   I really wish I could say they were a lot, lot younger.   Because they were my husband’s granddaughters from a previous marriage, I seriously considered disowning them that morning.

Fifth mistake:   thinking a specially-arranged, behind-the-scenes tour of the Alaska Sea Life Center would interest them.  They were bored silly.

They did have some fun at the dog sled rides (on wheels).   Two did, the third stayed behind—the one with the scratches.

Then we drove a few miles outside of Seward to visit Exit Glacier.  The vault toilet facilities on that hot sunny day were…   were…   despicable.   They were located in a temporary trailer building and were desperately in need of servicing and emptying.

And I’m not at all sure the glacier impressed them.

So, when my friend Linda came to town and I decided to take her to Exit Glacier, I was really, really concerned.

I need not have been worried.  First, Linda was much better behaved.  

Second, we encountered a nice pullout with an excellent view of the glacier that comes down from the Harding Ice Field.  Exit Glacier is the only road-accessible part of the Kenai Fjords National Park.

And third, a large paved parking area with new ranger station graced the area.   The restrooms were spotless.   I vaguely recalled a dusty gravel parking area and a single, small ranger cabin.

The mile-long trail to the glacier offered two opportunities:  get right alongside the glacier by a gentle uphill climb, or approach it from the river bed.   In neither case are visitors allowed to actually get right up to the ice, an unfortunate result of a large chunk of ice falling and killing a tourist.   Killing tourists is frowned upon by the Alaska tourist bureau.

A very nice trail leads to the glacier.   Keep alert--there are many bears in the area.   We saw a black bear just off the trail but I couldn't get a photo.

Linda and I chose the uphill route, passing another offshoot that leads climbers to the ice field itself.   When we reached the viewing area, I was unable to orient myself.  The glacier had receded greatly in the past 15 years and gone was the ice tunnel we foolishly walked through and marveled at.  That was pre-tourist death and pre-granddaughter visit, of course.

Approaching the glacier.

Nonetheless, Exit Glacier is spectacular and worth a visit.

See the people just the the right of the center of this picture, just above the boulder on the rock?   Good for size perspective.   Not the ones on the trail at far right.

The toe, or terminus, of the glacier.

Striations on rock caused by the glacier moving across it.

And so ended my tour guide stint with Linda, after we ate lunch at the BBQ place at the Train Wreck and I saw her board the Alaska Railroad for what I hope was a jaw-dropping trip through the mountains and along Turnagain Arm to Anchorage.

The Train Wreck--rail cars that house a restaurant, bike rental shop, and overnight rooms.

I hope she enjoyed her trip to this part of Alaska and my guiding.   I sure did.

Gully at the glacier.
Linda with her new hairdo courtesy of Exit Glacier Katabatic Wind Style Shop.

 On the way home after dropping off Linda, I stopped at the lily pad pond...

...looking for these two....

Oh, and those three hellions that visited 15 years ago?   They have matured into the most lovely, lovable, well-mannered young women I have ever known   They are polite, caring, the first to help, and best friends.   My granddaughters.   But aside from that, this is my revenge for THAT morning, girls.

Here's a flower for you girls: